Thoughts on Books (#16): Northern Encounter / Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Short Stories / A Discovery of Witches


Northern Encounter
Northern Encounter by Jennifer LaBrecque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I needed an uplifting change of pace from my usual dark suspense/thriller reads, and NORTHERN ENCOUNTER fit the bill perfectly. A romance set in Alaska is the perfect escape. I’ll probably never get there, so reading about it is the next best thing.

Clint is a Native Alaskan and wilderness guide who’s hired by Tessa, a videographer from Arizona. She’s come to the town of Good Riddance to film the magnificent landscape for her latest project. They feel an attraction to each other, though both have reasons for not wanting a relationship. The characters were strong, and their conflicts were realistic. Of course, I absolutely loved the small town Alaska setting. The secondary characters were likable and interesting too. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!


The Complete Short Stories
The Complete Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A motley collection of short stories from Poe (the complete collection!) – horror, suspense, comedy, detective, general life observations, even science fiction. At times the stories are too wordy, but Poe always entertains with his grand imagination. I greatly enjoyed Bob Thomley’s narration of the audiobook. ♥


A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m finishing up this chunkster book today. I liked it, though maybe not as much as I thought I would. The world building was quite interesting, and I was impressed with the scientific and historical research. I’m very curious about the magical book Diana found, and why the various creatures want it.

On the flip side, the many descriptions of things — rowing, horseback riding, food, wine, hunting, etc — slowed the pace down. I liked witchy Diana, but never warmed up to Matthew. Does he get more likable in future books??

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES has been sitting on my TBR shelf for 8 years (!!!), so I’m glad I finally read it. Will definitely continue the series at some point.


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Book Review: ONE POTION IN THE GRAVE by Heather Blake

OnePotion
Series: Magic Potion Mystery, #2
Publisher: Signet
Released: October 7, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


Carly Bell Hartwell’s love potions are always in demand in Hitching Post, Alabama, the wedding capital of the South.

When Katie Sue Perrywinkle walks into the Little Shop of Potions, Carly is surprised and delighted to see her old childhood friend. Katie Sue fled her hometown and a troubled family over a decade ago. But she’s not back for a social visit. She’s come to settle a score with Senator Warren Calhoun, who is in town for his son’s high-profile wedding.

But before Katie Sue has a chance to voice any objections, she’s forced to forever hold her peace. After finding her friend dead, Carly vows to find her murderer. Were the corrupt Calhouns willing to go to any lengths to avoid a scandal? Did Katie Sue’s family take the term “bad blood” to a whole new level? And why did the bride-to-be come to Carly for a love potion? As Carly gets closer to the truth, a killer is planning a very chilly reception.


The charming town of Hitching Post, Alabama, may be the wedding capital of the south, but happily-ever-afters are not guaranteed. Local witch Carly Bell Hartwell is thrilled when her old friend Katie Sue stumbles into her potions shop. Unfortunately, there’s a dark cloud over their happy reunion, and Carly senses trouble. When Katie Sue dies under suspicious circumstances, Carly becomes wrapped up in a web of juicy secrets, dirty politics, and nasty family squabbles, trying to solve the case.

ONE POTION IN THE GRAVE is the second book in the Magic Potion Mystery series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first! The mystery in this book was really good, with many layers and possible suspects. Carly definitely had her amateur sleuthing work cut out for her in this one. I especially loved that her cousin Delia (the hexer, love her!) and best friend Ainsley helped out again. There’s a history of bad blood between Carly and Delia, and I’m glad to see a possible friendship forming.  This book is full of colorful and entertaining characters,  like Carly’s eccentric aunts, also know as the “Odd Ducks.” They are hilarious.

Heather Blake is one of my favorite cozy authors, and if you enjoy your mystery with a touch of romance and the paranormal, I highly recommend picking up one of her books!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR by Dawn Eastman

BeCarefulWitchFor
Series: A Family Fortune Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Released: July 1, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


Leaving a traumatic police career behind, Clyde Fortune has returned to her seemingly quiet hometown of Crystal Haven, Michigan. In spite of the psychic powers of its residents, there’s no telling what trouble is brewing in this burg…

The highlight of this year’s fall festival in Crystal Haven is a bonfire with a witch’s cauldron resting over it. Clyde’s best friend, Diana, leads a ritual to divine the future, but it seems no one foresees that one of their own will drop dead—or that Diana will be a prime suspect.

Clyde already has her hands full with her eccentric family, runaway nephew, and burgeoning secret romance with a hunky homicide detective. But after another coven member is attacked, Clyde suspects there’s a witch hunt afoot and focuses her psychic and sleuthing skills to clear her friend’s name and catch a killer.


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR is the second book in the Family Fortune Mystery series, starring former cop and reluctant psychic Clytemnestra “Clyde” Fortune solving mysteries and struggling to accept her special “gift.” It’s fall festival time in the mystical town of Crystal Haven, Michigan. During a Wiccan ritual lead by Clyde’s friend Diana, something goes terribly wrong and one of the participants dies, and the police suspect foul play. To turn their attention away from Diana, Clyde sets out to find other suspects, and she’s surprised to learn that several people had a reason for wanting the victim dead.

I haven’t read the first book in the series, but I was able to jump into this one with no problem. I did have question or two about the town’s and residents’ back stories, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Crystal Haven is a curious place I loved visiting, especially with the crisp fall setting and paranormal activity going on. The murder mystery was intriguing with a few different angles Clyde had to consider, and I didn’t know until the end how things would go. I also enjoyed the side story of Clyde’s troubled nephew, Seth, and the reclusive witch who may be able to help Clyde with her visions.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR is an entertaining cozy mystery with just the right about of humor, paranormal woo-woo, and romance to shake things up. Enjoyable! (P.S. I want that house on the book’s cover!)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: SOME ENCHANTED ECLAIR by Bailey Cates

SomeEnchantedEclair
Series: A Magical Bakery Mystery, #4
Publisher: Signet
Released: July 1, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


When Hollywood invades Savannah’s historic district to film a Revolutionary War movie, magical baker Katie Lightfoot, and her witches’ coven, the Spellbook Club, take a break from casting spells for casting calls. One of the witches snags a part as an extra, while Katie’s firefighter boyfriend, Declan, acts as on-set security. Katie and her aunt Lucy decide to stay out of the action, but after the movie’s “fixer” fires the caterer, the Honeybee Bakery comes to the rescue, working their magic to keep the hungry crew happy.

But when someone fixes the fixer—permanently—and a spooky psychic predicts Katie will find the killer, the charming baker and her fellow conjurers step in to sift through the suspects…before someone else winds up on the cutting room floor…


SOME ENCHANTED ECLAIR is my favorite so far in the Magical Bakery Mystery series. Baker and witch Katie Lightfoot gets wrapped up in another murder mystery, this time on the set of a Revolutionary War movie being filmed in Savannah.

The murder victim was a “fixer,” as in he was in charge of fixing personal and professional problems for the cast and crew, which means he had some interesting connections, and knew a lot of dirt on a lot of people. The movie’s big star has a personal psychic who tells Katie that she’s meant to find the murderer, and luckily she’s got her Spellbook Club coven to help out.

This was a puzzling mystery with just the right amount of paranormal intrigue. Katie learns a little more about her powers and why she seems to be a magnet to murder mysteries. Katie’s boyfriend Declan gets a big surprise from a long lost family member in a rather amazing way. I can’t wait to see what happens with this new revelation. I felt like I got to know the Spellbook Club members more in this book, and I enjoyed seeing their characters develop.

I love this series, and it just keeps getting better and better! Highly recommended to fans of light paranormal and culinary cozy mysteries.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A WITCH BEFORE DYING by Heather Blake

witchbeforedying
Series: A Wishcraft Mystery, #2
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Source: Paperback purchase
Rating: ★★★★½


Darcy Merriweather is Salem, Massachusetts’ newest resident Wishcrafter—a witch who can grant wishes for others. While Darcy isn’t able to grant wishes for herself, she does possess a certain knack for solving problems—including the occasional murder…

When Darcy is hired by Elodie Keaton to clean up her missing mother’s disorderly home, the Wishcrafter is certainly up for the task. After all, the motto of her Aunt Ve’s personal concierge service As You Wish is “No Job Impossible.” But beneath the piles of old newspapers and knickknacks Darcy discovers something much more disturbing—Patrice Keaton’s body.

Darcy’s determined to give Elodie peace of mind by investigating her mother’s disappearance and death. Patrice was last seen over a year ago after a fight with her Charmcrafter boyfriend. Was her murder a crime of passion? Or were Patrice’s troubles caused by the Anicula, a wish-granting amulet? Now Darcy has to not only find a killer, she has to find the Anicula— before the power of ultimate wish fulfillment falls into the wrong hands…


A WITCH BEFORE DYING is the second book in Heather Blake’s Wishcraft Mystery series which is set in a magical neighborhood of Salem, Massachusetts. Ms. Blake’s “witchy” cozy mysteries are a delight to read, and this one was no exception.

The mystery in this book was very good. It was complex with interwoven plot lines, and I was kept guessing until the very end. Wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather has her hands full when she’s hired to clean out a missing hoarder’s house, and she finds the dead body of the woman buried under all the junk. It was like an episode of Hoarders gone horribly wrong! Since it’s obvious foul play was involved and the woman’s dangerous magical amulet is missing, the daughter of the victim hires Darcy to find the killer. Though not an official private investigator (yet), Darcy is clever and has a knack for solving mysteries.

No big secrets of the Enchanted Village are revealed in this book, though we do get to know more characters – crafters, half-crafters, and a few who are just passing through. New relationships bloom, and old ones are severed. I especially loved seeing Darcy and Mimi’s bond grow stronger. Mimi is Darcy’s potential boyfriend’s daughter. Sweet! Like in the last book, the familiars Archie the macaw and Pepe the mouse were too funny.

This was an enjoyable read with unique characters, just the right about of woo woo, and a strong mystery that takes center stage.